The World Health Organization (WHO) often requires expert, scientific and technical support from other institutions. It has created an international network of collaborating centres that increases its capacity and brings top expertise over the long term. There are 290 collaborating centres in Europe, and the Czech Republic has had four since January 2023. And one of them is also the RECETOX research centre of the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University!
Hans Kluge, Director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, sent a notification of the appointment of the RECETOX Centre of the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University as the fourth WHO Collaborating Centre in the Czech Republic. Other collaborating centres in the Czech Republic comprise the Institute for Mother and Child Care (since 2015) and from 2021 the Institute of Health Information and Statistics and the National Institute of Mental Health.
“For us, it is an honour, a great appreciation and at the same time a commitment that Masaryk University can become a collaborating centre of the World Health Organization through RECETOX. Especially when we realize that we are the only Czech university as well as the only organisation outside the direct competence of the Czech Ministry of Health to receive this prestigious appointment,” said Martin Bareš, Rector of Masaryk University.
RECETOX expertise available to WHO
The RECETOX's collaboration with WHO will focus on assessing the risks associated with population exposure to chemicals. The Centre has already been collaborating with WHO in since 2013, which is also one of the criteria of the appointment. Further, the RECETOX had to demonstrate that it had the ability to meet WHO's high standards, which guarantee the prestige of collaborating centres. How will the collaboration with RECETOX support the WHO?
The RECETOX brings its experience from more than thirty years of research of effects of toxic substances on the environment and human health. Its national and international monitoring networks provide information on contamination of outdoor and indoor air, water, soil or products, as well as information on effects of various toxic mixtures. In long-term population studies, it monitors the development of the health of the Czech population and the impact of a wide range of negative factors. It develops database systems that make all data available for scientific studies and policy decisions at the global level. Finally, it offers experience in local cooperation, building living laboratories and healthy smart cities.
The WHO focuses its attention on chemicals of serious public health concern (such as endocrine disruptors, mercury, cadmium, lead and asbestos), by raising awareness to their impacts and by strengthening national regulatory mechanisms. Here the RECETOX will transfer its experience and provide experimental capacity, technical support, trainings and organize workshops. It will also participate and provide its support in the WHO Chemical Risk Assessment Network, which connects relevant European experts to the needs of countries that do not have a sufficient capacity in these areas.
European dimension of the RECETOX involvement
Moreover, the RECETOX is also coordinating the European EIRENE research infrastructure which supports the top European research institutions to develop sufficient experimental and data capacity for interdisciplinary research of the impacts that toxic substances have on the environment and humans. This creates further potential for making available the information and expertise needed to protect public health.
Jana Klánová, Director of RECETOX, adds: “In 2009, RECETOX was endorsed by UNEP as the Stockholm Convention Regional Centre for Capacity Building and Technology Transfer in Central and Eastern Europe. After 14 years, our work in the field of transferring scientific results into practical applications and to legislation has been awarded a second prestigious appointment by the WHO. We appreciate it immensely.”
Srdan Matić, Director of the WHO Office in Prague, commented at the Office's annual meeting in Prague: “I am pleased that the new, fourth collaborating centre in the Czech Republic is the RECETOX, one of the most important institutions in the field of human biomonitoring and research on the impact of environmental pollution on human health. There are only two such institutions in the world and one of them is at Masaryk University in Brno.”